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Regional Improvement and Innovation Alliances

There has long been a strong commitment amongst local authority children’s services to working collaboratively to improve children and young people’s outcomes via data benchmarking, peer challenge activity and informal mentoring or support. This work has largely taken place on regional footprint e.g. the north west or south east, with structures and practical activities varying from place to place.

In 2017 the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) began working with the Local Government Association (LGA), the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (Solace) and the Department for Education (DfE) on plans to bring more coherence to these sector-led improvement arrangements. Regional Improvement and Innovation Alliances (RIIAs), which went live on 1 April 2019, are the result of these efforts.

RIIAs draw in local authority chief executives, lead members for children’s services, directors of children’s services and other senior leaders of children’s services in both local authorities and trusts in a bid to challenge and support each other collectively to be ambitious for all children, young people and families. These arrangements are built on the understanding that there is considerable expertise, knowledge and skills across the whole sector; everyone has something to learn and everyone have something to give.

RIIAs are a trusted, effective and coherent sector-led model underpinned by robust peer-review and challenge processes supported by inter-authority improvement offers and national offers including from the DfE’s 15 nominated ‘Partners in Practice,’ authorities and the LGA’s extensive sector-led improvement offers to councils Additionally, an agreed core dataset is collected across all regions on a quarterly basis. Each RIIA has a lead nominated director of children’s services, a lead member for children’s services and a lead chief executive as well as a DfE advisor and a regional LGA advisor. All authorities in the region also sign up to a Memorandum of Understanding, clearly setting out how data will be shared, support will be given and received as well as the ways in which concerns about local policy, practice or processes will be addressed, and if necessary, escalated.

RIIAs are concerned with the full spectrum of children’s services, from safeguarding, early years and youth work to SEND and family support. Members of each RIIA work together to identify shared priorities which in turn inform regional development plans for the coming year. There is a very clear sense of, and a commitment to, this common endeavour.

The focus of the central ADCS team is on facilitating the sharing of learning and best practice intra and inter-regionally, as well as advocating for children to be given a higher profile in national policy making via the creation of A country that works for all children.

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